By JR on Sunday, November 22, 2015
Australia is a nation of white privilege?
Despite the unceasing efforts of many Australian governments to improve the lot of Aborigines, we find a big whine from a part-Aboriginal man below. Clearly he feels saddened by some of his life experiences but he is that way because of a lack of perspective. He fails to factor in the great efforts to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal that have been made by many Australian governments over the years. Those efforts have largely failed but it is Aboriginals who have failed to take advantage of what they have been offered. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
Australia does have an informal version of America's "affirmative action" in that the standards expected of Aborigines are lower than what is expected of whites but that has still done little good. How is the rest of Australia to blame for that? The efforts have been made but Aborigines have failed to respond.
As well as that deficiency in perspective, the writer seems to suffer from something like delusions of reference. He attributes all his difficulties to the color of his skin. He seems to think that only Aborigines have problems. That society also gives whites problems appears to be quite beyond his ken. The problems whites and blacks have may be different but the problems whites have can be very severe. We often read of young white people suiciding but I have yet to hear of an Aborigine doing the same. Particularly in Britain there are stories of suicides among young white children and teenagers in the papers most days.
There is no doubt that children can be cruel to one-another and that seems mostly to be behind the suicides I have mentioned. Children will pick on almost any deviation from the norm and mock it. In my youth I was mocked for being unsporting but I just ignored it and the mockery ceased. That children also mock dark skin is therefore completely normal and unlikely to change. If the guy below did not have dark skin he might well have been picked on for some other attribute. Calling a society racist for what some children acting like children do is absurd.
In using the word "privilege", the writer is using an expression that often implies that a person is getting something undeserved. But the whole idea of privilege in the field of race-relations is just a leftist slur. It asserts that some people or classes of people were/are given certain things unfairly rather than working for them, earning them or deserving them
If a high IQ person makes a scientific breakthrough, is that privilege? I can't see it. He may be amply rewarded for his breakthrough but that reward is a reward for his work, not privilege.
Being born bright could be seen as a privilege but that is conferred by genetics not society -- and being bright of itself may mean little. I knew a very high IQ man who could only find work supervising garbage bins. It's the work you do using your brain that matters and which gives you any rewards. And the results of work are not "privilege". They are justly earned rewards
And a rejection of a job application by a black is also a justly earned reward, though the individual black himself might not have earned it. If Leftist privilege-critics can talk in terms of such broad categories as "whites", why can employers not think in terms of such broad categories as "blacks"? And the well-known poor performance of both Australian and American blacks in many ways will often give rise to a reasonable fear that any given black may perform poorly in tasks relevant to the job in question. If the task involved singing and dancing or running fast, an application from an American black could well be given priority. Who would be "privileged" then?
Any attempt at answering that question shows immediately that the whole idea of anchoring your analysis of wellbeing or success in such broad and diverse categories as "whites" or "blacks" is near brain-dead. It indicates an inability at detailed thought or a lack of fine-grained perception. It is just a typical Leftist overgeneralization. There all sorts of whites, rich, poor and in-between. Are they all equally "privileged" by being white? Only a Leftist would think so
An intelligent appraisal of various forms of success in society would require much, much more than such childish categories as "whites". Pre-schoolers can tell whites from blacks and Leftists would appear not to have got beyond that infantile stage in their thinking. Leftist politicians do talk of 'nuance' but they rarely display any of it
But nothing in Leftist "privilege" discourse is remotely intellectual. It is just an attempt at stirring up racial antagonisms. It is racism pure and simple.
The guy below should stop obsessing about past slights and get on with living. As an totally unsporting person, I manage to survive happily in a sports-mad nation so I can see no reason why an articulate part-Aboriginal man cannot survive happily in a mostly white nation. Wise people make the best of what they have instead of whining about what they have not
Chinese, Japanese and Indians look different and are different in some ways but they do well in Australia. The whiner below needs to ask himself why Aborigines fail to do likewise. Within living memory, Italians Greeks and other Southern Europeans were treated with suspicion by "old" Australians but their children are now well and truly in the mainstream. Why has that not happened with Aborigines? Minor discrimination clearly does not hold anyone back in Australia if they have the drive to get out and do something for themselves rather than sitting down on their behinds
I have just returned from Jamaica, where I gave a keynote address on Black Consciousness as part of the country’s Heritage Week Celebrations. I spent a week feeling “black, loud and proud”, embraced for my Aboriginality and acknowledged by my international peers as an authority in my field.
But I returned home to discover yet another storm of racial vilification brewing. This time it was targeted against actress Miranda Tapsell, whose only crime was to be honest and heartfelt when interviewed about racism in Australia.
And, once again, anger was being aimed at retired footballer Adam Goodes – now due to his role as a David Jones ambassador.
And, last week, a video showing a group of black African students being asked to leave an Apple store in Melbourne went viral. It clearly showed an Apple staff member telling the boys that they had to leave the store because staff were concerned they were going to shoplift. Apple later apologised.
The reality of white privilege
It doesn’t take long as an Indigenous Australian returning from overseas to be reminded that we are a nation of white privilege. Examples of such privilege include people being able to experience the following:
assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender or sexual orientation as you are;
assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race or gender; and
not have to think about your race, gender, sexual orientation or disabilities on a daily basis.
For me, it starts before the flight home. My daughter is the youngest-ever graduate in the Australian Public Service traineeship program, black or white. She also celebrated her 18th birthday in Paris after negotiating a dollar-for-dollar deal with her mother and I.
But rather than reaffirm her identity, Maiala’s success denies her Aboriginality, with people often shocked when they hear how well she is doing.
If she was beaten, abandoned and on substance abuse she would fit her racial profile. This is white privilege in action: assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race or your gender. If Maiala fit her racial profile her failures would be attributed to her being Aboriginal – but no-one assumes this of her success.
Our failure is a consequence of being Aboriginal. But any success is clearly only due to our having white blood.
Being black in white Australia
Everywhere we travel overseas as a family we are asked our ethnicity. Whether in Europe, the US or elsewhere, people are generally shocked to find out we are Indigenous Australians. Why? Because they had no idea black people, let alone Indigenous black people, come from Australia.
Australia is known exclusively as a country of white people. Could you imagine thinking of New Zealand without any idea that Māori people existed, or the US without black people or Native Americans?
My wife and children are very Aboriginal in their appearance. The welcoming faces they receive from other Australians when overseas quickly turn to shock, and replaced by a look we Aboriginal people see all our lives. People look down as we pass them, or slide across in public seats so we can’t sit next to them. Yes, this happens. And we see it, we feel it – and yes it hurts.
The situation almost becomes surreal on the plane. Generally every staff member is white on every major Australian airline. So here we are as black people, jumping on an aircraft of white people being served by white people, immersed back into a world of whiteness.
Just look at these in-flight air safety videos from Australia, the US and New Zealand. If ever there was a demonstration of Australian white privilege this is it. The US and New Zealand videos clearly show black and Indigenous people not only existing, but as being essential to the culture, the company and the identity of the institution. The Australian video is a world of whiteness.
History repeats itself
Australia just isn’t progressive and our people continue to suffer. There’s no better example of this than the fact that we are losing more of our children today than during the Stolen Generation. Not having been reared by my own Aboriginal mother, it is a situation that raises feelings of anxiety within me every time I return home from overseas.
The greatest demonstration of white privilege is that Australia consistently ranks near the top in the annual United Nations Human Development Index – which measures health, economic well-being and life expectancy.
But if Australia’s Indigenous population were to be ranked separately, it would come 100th out of nearly 200 nations. In other words, Australia is one of the richest Western countries in the world built on an industry of mining from the lands of Aboriginal people who remain living in third-world poverty.
As with Tapsell, my daughter Maiala, Goodes, black kids denied access to Apple stores and many others, the atmosphere is toxic. It affects us all and we have to call it for what it is: white privilege.